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Black Snow Buries Russian Coal Region, Sparks Criminal Case

"Help us," the message reads. kamenkseni / Instagram

Russian police have opened a criminal case into air pollution in the Siberian coal-mining region of Kemerovo, weeks after black snow first covered towns in the area.

Dark snow descended on the cities of Prokopyevsk, Kiselyovsk and Leninsk-Kuznetsky in mid-February, a phenomenon that has been attributed to rising coal output. Authorities in another Kemerovo town were reprimanded in December for using white paint to cover up ash- and soot-covered snow.

The regional police department announced Monday that it had opened a criminal case into air pollution against an unnamed factory after a complaint filed by a resident of Kiselyovsk. The charges carry a fine of up to 80,000 rubles ($1,226) and suspension from holding office for up to 5 years.

Tests revealed more than double the permissible amount of pollutants in the air, the Kemerovo region Interior Ministry department said.

Here is a selection of photos posted by social media users:

Black snow engulfs cars on the street. 

This car parked on the side of the street isn't going anywhere anytime soon. 

"Our white snow," reads the writing in the snow that is not at all white. 

A thick spread of black snow, marked with the date. 

When coated with snow, tar streets and the sidewalk blend into each other. 

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